MCSO deputies arrest two South Korean firefighters
Sheriff’s Office warned actions might spark “international issue”
By Patrick Yost
Two South Korean firefighters were arrested by Morgan County deputies Sunday, despite protests from a class instructor that the arrests would spark "an international issue," said Lt. Mark Williams, Morgan County Sheriff's Office.
Byung Su Chang, 30, and Juhan Ohm, 29, were both arrested in Greene County by Morgan County authorities and each was charged with reckless driving after a Morgan County deputy reported observing Chang and Ohm cutting donuts on Seven Islands Road near the intersection of Interstate 20.
Deputy Derrick Reid reported that he allegedly observed the men at approximately 1:22 a.m. on Saturday "make several illegal turns" on Seven Islands Road.
Reid said in his report that he turned and activated his patrol lights and that both a red Chevrolet Impala driven by Chang and a silver Chevrolet Impala driven by Ohm then entered Interstate 20 traveling eastbound. Reid said he followed both vehicles with his emergency lights flashing for one mile and both vehicles stopped. While Reid was relaying tag information both vehicles continued eastbound again for approximately one mile and stopped again, his report states, this time for approximately 30 seconds. Both cars drove away again.
Both vehicles travelled the speed limit into Greene County and Reid reported that both vehicles were weaving in out of lanes.
As a Greene County Sheriff's Office deputy joined the pursuit, the red Impala stopped at the 133 mile marker in Greene County. The silver vehicle was also stopped by Greene County deputies.
Chang told the deputy that he did not know he was supposed to stop for an officer with activated emergency lights.
Lt. Mark Williams, Morgan County Sheriff's Office, said both men are South Korean fire fighters who were attending emergency medical technician classes at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta. Williams said a class coordinator from the college contacted the Morgan County Sheriff's Office and stated that the men were "on official business and this was going to spark an international issue."
Williams said he contacted the U.S. State Department to determine if the men were protected by diplomatic immunity.
"They posted a cash bond just like anybody else," he said. "They are not entitled to any kind of diplomatic immunity."
After posting the $705 cash bond the men were both released from the Morgan County Detention Center.
Printed in the September 20, 2012 edition